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C-Section Under Anesthesia Raises Autism Risk

C-Section Under Anesthesia Raises Autism Risk

May 14, 2019

Medical Research

ISRAEL21c – BGU researchers have just cleared up the mystery as to why Caesarean-section delivered infants are at higher risk of developing autism symptoms.

It’s not the surgery but the kind of anesthesia that causes the increased risk.

The groundbreaking discovery is described in a paper titled “Exposure to General Anesthesia May Contribute to the Association Between Cesarean Delivery and Autism Spectrum Disorder,” published May 3 in The Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders by researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and clinicians from Soroka University Medical Center in Beer-Sheva.

“We have known for many years that children born via C-section are at higher risk of autism, but we weren’t able to quantify exactly why,” said Dr. Idan Menashe from BGU’s School of Public Health and the Zlotowski Center for Neuroscience.

“The current research shows that the exposure to general anesthesia commonly used to perform a Caesarian section, rather than the operation itself, is related to communication challenges later in life,” he said.

C-sections performed with other types of anesthesia such as epidural or spinal sedation are relatively safe, explained Menashe, who also serves as the scientific director of the National Autism Research Center at BGU.

The study, headed by Menashe and conducted by an interdisciplinary team from the National Autism Research Center, compared the birth records of 2,690 children, 347 of whom were on the autism spectrum.

In addition to Menashe, the paper’s coauthors are Maayan Huberman Samuel of BGU’s School of Public Health; Dr. Gal Meiri of the Preschool Psychiatry Unit at Soroka University Medical Center; Prof. Ilan Dinstein of BGU’s Department of Psychology and the Zlotowski Center for Neuroscience; Dr. Hagit Flusser and Analya Michaelovski of Soroka’s Department of Child Development; and Prof. Asher Bashiri of Soroka’s OB/GYN department.

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